Archives For Concert of Prayer

And why it matters to Baptists now

HEARTLAND | Eric Reed

After his election as president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Arkansas pastor Ronnie Floyd has called Southern Baptists to prayer, but not just any prayer—extraordinary prayer. The phrase is not original to Floyd, as he stated from the start. It’s almost 300 years old.

Credit Jonathan Edwards, the Puritan preacher with poor eyesight who often read from a manuscript his most famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”

Floyd adopted the term “extraordinary prayer” from a book by Edwards called “An Humble Attempt to Promote Explicit Agreement and Visible Union of God’s People, in Extraordinary

Prayer, for the Revival of Religion and the Advancement of Christ’s Kingdom on Earth, Pursuant to Scripture Promises and Prophecies Concerning the Last Time.” (Titling was not their strong suit in the 18th century.)

But what did he mean by extraordinary prayer?

The 2014 IBSA Annual Meeting theme is Mission Illinois: A Concert of Prayer. For more information, go to IBSA.org/ibsa2014.

Mission Illinois: A Concert of Prayer is the theme of the 2014 Annual Meeting of the Illinois Baptist State Association. For more information, go to IBSA.org/ibsa2014.

From Zechariah, Edwards drew a picture of prayer that would result first in revival of the church, then awakening and regeneration of lost people. “God’s people will be given a spirit of prayer,” Edwards wrote, “inspiring them to come together and pray in an extraordinary manner, that He would help his Church, show mercy to mankind in general, pour out his Spirit, revive His work, and advance His kingdom in the world as He promised.

“Moreover, such prayer would gradually spread and increase more and more, ushering in a revival of religion.”

Edwards offered an example he had witnessed personally. In 1744, a group of ministers in Scotland called on believers to engage in prayer. “They desired a true revival in all parts of Christendom, and to see nations delivered from their great and many calamities, and to bless them with the unspeakable benefits of the Kingdom of our glorious Redeemer, and to fill the whole earth with His glory.”

The group pledged to pray every Saturday evening, Sunday morning, and all day on the first Tuesday of each quarter—for two years.

During that time, many churches were renewed. In one town alone, 30 groups of young people formed and committed themselves to prayer for revival. Buoyed by the results, the ministers sent 500 letters to pastors in New England urging their own two-year commitment.

Edwards noted: “Those ministers in Boston said of this proposal: ‘The motion seems to come from above, and to be wonderfully spreading in Scotland, England, Wales, Ireland and North America.’”

And they extended the two-year pledge to seven years of prayer.

Edwards, who with George Whitefield and others, was at the heart of the First Great Awakening, cited prayer as vital to the movement of God’s spirit in the colonies.

Extraordinary prayer sidebar

 

Revival in churches and spiritual awakening needed in Illinois

NEWS | Eric Reed

ConcertofPrayeropenartweb_edited-2“It is good for us to draw nigh unto God in prayer,” Charles Spurgeon urged his contemporaries 150 years ago. “Our minds are grieved to see so little attention given to united prayer by many churches.”

His words sound familiar today.

“I believe we need to cry out to God for spiritual awakening in our state, and for revival in our churches,” said Nate Adams, executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association, calling on messengers to the IBSA Annual Meeting to come prepared for a “Concert of Prayer.”

“I believe many pastors and church leaders across Illinois are working tirelessly every week, with Great Commission hearts and toward Kingdom purposes. I know our IBSA staff are,” Adams said. “Yet our impact is not keeping pace with the increasing lostness of Illinois.

“So at the Wednesday evening session of this year’s Annual Meeting, we are choosing to focus less on what we have been doing, and more on asking God to do what only He can.”

The call for prayer for revival and spiritual awakening in Illinois, in development over a period of months, appears to be part of a larger work God is doing among Southern Baptists. Seemingly independent of each other, special prayer meetings have arisen in several neighboring states.

And SBC President Ronnie Floyd called pastors together for prayer on several occasions prior to his election. “No great movement of God ever occurs without first being preceded by the extraordinary prayer of God’s people,” Floyd said.

“I really believe that the real key to the future of our entire nation and the church of Jesus Christ in America and beyond is if the United States, the church of the United States has a major spiritual awakening.”

The state of our state

The entire Annual Meeting will be permeated by prayer, leading to a special Concert of Prayer on Wednesday evening. Following the pattern in Isaiah 6:1-8, messengers will be guided through a cycle of prayer:

  • Lament
  • Repent
  • Intercede
  • Commit

“We don’t lament anymore,” Adams observed. It’s not characteristic of evangelical culture to identify our sins and wail over them as the Jews do, or to pound our chest as the Orthodox do. Given the grievous sins of our culture and our nation today, a period of lament will require that we identify them, then think about them for a while before rushing to repentance.

The Isaiah cycle leads pray-ers to repent of their own sins and the sins of the nation, as Isaiah did when confessing the “unclean lips” of himself and his people.

A season of intercession for the lost will bring the needs of Illinois before God and His people, and ultimately, the need for God’s people to commit afresh to renewal of their service and seeking the salvation of lost people.

The musical group Veritas will help guide the phases in the Concert of Prayer, with seasons of worship at the beginning and end.

“Frankly, it’s uncomfortable for me personally to devote the core of our IBSA Annual Meeting to worship and prayer time where we simply gather and ask God to move in our hearts,” Adams said. “I’m a planner and a doer, and our Wednesday night sessions are usually well programmed. But this year our primary program is prayer. May the Lord honor our desire to hear specially from Him.”

For a complete preview of the IBSA Annual Meeting and Pastors’ Conference, go to www.IBSA.org.ibsa2014.